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Premium WordPress Themes – Not Your Average Theme

revolution-tech.jpgAnyone that uses WordPress blogging platform knows that there was a severe drought in themes this past year.  Searching for new themes in 2006 would return you themes created in 2005- welcome to boring.

The cry for WordPress CMS style themes as well as a more professional 2.0 bend brought a fantastic designer into the limelight, that designer being Brian GardnerThe Revolution Themes designed by him with a CMS / Magazine style interface appears to have opened a new craze in the WordPress theme world.  These Premium themes start in price from $49 all the way up to $100 for a single license with Brians themes landing in the $79 range and up (not bad).  Some of the themes are worth every penny, other themes designed by others are ripoffs of other themes, but for a price, the theme drought is over. 

Here’s the thing with WordPress themes, even the new Premium themes- they can be complicated in many cases, there’s no money back guarantee, and they lack automation.  Also, these themes leak SEO due to percieved repeat content by search engines and require close management and adjustment using SEO plugins. 

Another issue I have is the idea of charging for the initial theme without allowing access to the admin panel.  Many of these larger CMS style themes require modification of content independently of the blog- for example setting up featured articles or new stories- these updates may require you to update featured content often as opposed to static content.

So here are a few tips & suggestions

for new and seasoned WordPress users when looking at themes to purchase.

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  • Before dropping coin on a pretty premium theme, you need to discover the purpose of your site in general.  Content Management Systems are more like websites with a blog background.
  • Read the tutorials section of the theme you’re contemplating.  Read each tutorial to discover your depth of knowledge editing the various regions of the theme.
  • Click through the demos of the themes placing your content in the various sections in your mind (or on paper as I do)- does it work for your situation?  Do not assume it is simple to remove or add sections as a removal of a section could destroy the themes look and navigation although re-purposing a section is generally the way to go.
  • Seek out the level of assistance that comes with the theme- is the designer willing to work with you to work out solutions to your unique needs- if not, move on.
  • Is there a forum that addresses code or theme problems (premium doesn’t mean perfect)?
  • Are the plugins needed to use as the theme is demonstrated, packed into the theme already for installation?  For $49 dollars and up they should be.
  • Never purchase a Premium theme similar to another in your profession unless you intend on having a professional designer change your theme dramatically.  Many newer, less savvy agents must understand that just because you’ve been okay with template sites like advanced access and xsites in the past does not mean someone who is live / self hosted already will want their design copied – be creative and be unique, theft of layout and design is not a compliment, nor is copying the branding or copyof someone elses site.  (here’s an awesome example of CSS & copy theft.)

Suggested Designers: (Designers I personally like)

Brian and Cory have teamed up on a new internet venture centered around site design – will be bringing you more, so stay tuned!

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.



  1. Robert D. Ashby

    January 18, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Benn – I like the Rev Tech theme, except I don’t see it working for most of our blogging styles. I tend to like the neoclassical theme and a few others, then tweaking them as I learn more about programming (my company site is html only and needs upgrading also).

    I am currently pursuing a changeover from my current Typepad to WordPress under the same host as I feel WordPress presents better opportunities (running a mirror site right now). What do you think?

  2. Benn Rosales

    January 18, 2008 at 9:48 am

    WordPress as CMS for a company site is the only reason you would want to do it- it’s a blog with a landing page and architecture for your content.

  3. Drew Meyers

    January 18, 2008 at 11:03 am

    I like both Brian and Cory as designers as well — Brian is the guy behind the theme on Zillow Blog, and Cory designed Geek Estate (and I use a theme of his on my personal blog as well as the CoRE blog). That’s awesome they’ve teamed up.

  4. Cory Miller

    January 18, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Benn, thanks for the link and comments! We’re pumped about offering quality themes for small business-type websites. I think the SEO benefits that WordPress brings to the table, coupled with well-designed themes, offer a lot to local businesses looking for new customers, such as realtors.

    Drew, thanks for the nice comments as well!

  5. Benn Rosales

    January 18, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    I agree totally…

  6. Carson Coots

    January 18, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Rev Mag is what I am working with right now, and it wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to figure out. Plus you have to make sure the images are a consistent size, and those thumbnails dont create themselves.

    Check this out:

  7. Jay Thompson

    January 18, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Benn – what you’ve done with Revolution at is nothing short of art. Fine art. You are the master.

    That the guy at stole your copy verbatim is a crime. Literally.

    The problem I’m seeing with “premium” themes is they are becoming as widespread as free themes. While the number of sites using Revolution will never approach the numbers of something like a K2 theme, they are really beginning to pop up — particularly the “magazine style” themes. I wonder if any of these theme developers have ever considered issuing “limited editions”. I can understand why they don’t, as the amount of work developing a theme is considerable. But as the popular ones begin to become widespread, it does dilute the “specialness” of the premiums.

    Curious here… You say, “Never purchase a Premium theme similar to another in your profession unless you intend on having a professional designer change your theme dramatically”. I don’t understand why someone that purchases a theme should be required to change the theme dramatically. Why is a purchased theme any different than a free one? How is an agent to know if some other agent out there is using a similar theme???

  8. Benn Rosales

    January 18, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    You’re not required to do anything. Add a little 2.0 thinking to the rationality behind my statement and it’s obvious the point is to be above or a step beyond what would be normal. If you want to be average, why buy a premium theme?

    But let me take this to another level here – if you’re no longer busting out a monthly fee for template built sites like xsite or advanced, then obviously you’ve saved some cash, why not invest one year of monthly payment to the design of your site. Then, you’re more likely to be unique and set apart in your market.

    Seperate niche applications of a premium theme is not at issue here- I’m thinking ahead Xs 1.4 million… go bigger than the last or don’t go at all.

    You make both of my points here: “But as the popular ones begin to become widespread, it does dilute the “specialness” of the premiums.”

  9. Benn Rosales

    January 18, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    and by the way, don’t kid yourself, these premium themes are getting more dull by the day, the overall intent is to capture new business and that business is to design you something special. If not, it’s still an out of the box application.

  10. Carson Coots

    January 18, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    The average joe that doesn’t spend 15 hours a day scouring blogs and wordpress themes can’t even tell a K2 from a Revolution from a MistyLook. I don’t think there is too much to worry about as long as the headers/colors are tweaked. Man, in my office, they wouldn’t even know a kubrick if it slapped them in the face.

  11. Daniel Rothamel

    January 19, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    I’m a Revolution fan, duh. I agree that using the premium themes isn’t necessarily easy, but in the case of Revolution, the free support forum is excellent. Plenty of good advice and helpful people.

    I do agree that a theme such as Revolution is basically a blog with a landing page, but in my case, and in the case of our brokerage blog, that is exactly what I want. It offers flexibility. I need to get to tweaking the SEO.

    As far as what guys like you and Rudy Bachraty are doing with Revolution– impressive.

    One day, one day. . .

  12. Steve Belt

    January 27, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Benn, I’m a bit behind in my multi-author blog reading, but I had some time this weekend, and finally did a tiny bit of catching up, when I stumbled upon this. I completely agree with Jay… is an astounding implementation of Revolution.

    I’ve sent a request off to Brian Gardner, asking him to work his magic for me. I hope my lame website, which has a theme many agent websites share (and did I mention how lame it is?) will get Revolutionized. If he can’t take on my little project, I’ll have to do it myself, but I’d really rather he did it.

  13. Steve Belt

    January 27, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    PS- Thanks to this, my catching up on reading blogs was completely thrown into a tail spin…but that’s a good thing.

  14. Benn Rosales

    January 27, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    Steve, I aim to please… happy Sunday!

  15. Benn Rosales

    January 27, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Steve – did you see this?

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